Every parent wants their children to be happy and thrive. When the pandemic broke the flow of “normal” life, I became concerned about my son’s mental wellbeing. As a mindfulness teacher and coach, I found that most parents shared similar concerns, and as an employee benefits consultant, I knew that HR managers were hearing the same from their employees with families.
I started to research this more deeply and was disturbed to learn that today’s teens are experiencing record levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal feelings. This trend has been escalating for years. Several of the country’s leading organizations on child wellness have declared that we are in a National Mental Health Emergency for kids.
With our education and healthcare systems already over-taxed, it is up to parents and caregivers to ask: how can we help our teens? In response, I created a free virtual summit to help: Parenting Teens in Uncertain Times. With more conviction than experience, I dove in and started asking leaders to speak. The response was astonishing. Over 30 world-renowned teachers and experts in the fields of parenting, neurobiology, mindfulness, and indigenous communities agreed to share their expertise. The summit contains over 1000 years of cumulative wisdom to provide parents with insights, tools, and resources to support their teens through this mental health pandemic.
I want to share four key themes I found repeated throughout the interviews.
- Model what our kids need. It is more important than ever to train ourselves to pause
and feel what is happening. When we don’t give ourselves and our kids the space to feel, we create more tension. Dr. Rick Hanson, an expert on neuroscience of the mind suggests, “The best you can do is not pour gasoline on the fire … Take a breath, slow it down. That's the most useful thing to do in the moment, because so much of the time we get caught up in a runaway emotion.”
- Be real with what’s going on with you. Many parents feel like we should protect our kids by masking when we are feeling upset or down. Kids because they sense our stress, even if we don’t state it. “We don’t need to be Zen masters to be with our teens,” notes mindfulness teacher Kaira Jewel Lingo. “We can be freaking out, and tell our teen, ‘I'm really freaking out right now. This situation is really tough and I am doing my best, and I want us to work through this together.’”
- Practice Self Compassion. All parents feel like they’re failing at times. A consistent theme among the speakers was the reminder that there is really no “getting it right.” Holding yourself to this irrational standard only creates more tension. Recognize that there are societal factors that are influencing our kids that are beyond our control. As Tara Brach, one of the world’s leading teachers of mindfulness and compassion shared, “The idea that we are a bad parent is just the idea we have … the thoughts are not the truth ... If we can get the knack of saying to ourselves, ‘I don't have to believe my thoughts”, it opens us up to a much more intuitive and wise domain.”
- Parenting is an Opportunity to Stay Curious and Grow. I was so taken by many of the non-western perspectives of parenting, which suggest that our children chose to be born at this time and know what they need to do. It is a parent’s role to learn from our children and provide guidance, rather than teaching them to do as we did. “Parenting is an invitation for parents to play with their kids, not to impute value, but to remember that being
with our children is probably the most significant spiritual vocation of our times.” —Bayo Akomalafe.
Perhaps viewing our parenting as a give and take journey is a relief, and a great place to start.
We would love you to join us April 2-11, 2022 for this truly exciting FREE 10-day virtual summit on Parenting Teens in Uncertain Times.
Get your free ticket [click here]